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Compensation claims are subject to strict time limits and one pensioner whose life was blighted by an asbestos-related condition paid a high price for sitting on his hands and failing to seek prompt legal advice. Although his former employer had admitted breach of duty, the High Court ruled that he had left it too late to sue for damages.
The man, aged 71, had worked in the boiler room of a centralised school meals facility for 18 months in the 1970s. The asbestos lagging around the boilers was in very poor condition and the local authority which employed him accepted that his exposure to asbestos had arisen through its breach of duty.
He was left suffering from pleural plaques and diffuse pleural thickening which, when combined with a condition related to smoking, caused him pain and acute shortness of breath. However, when he launched proceedings against the council in 2014, he was met by arguments that his claim fell far outside the three-year time limit which applies to such cases.
In dismissing his claim, the Court found that he had been aware that he had suffered a significant asbestos-related injury as long ago as 2000. He had undergone a biopsy that year, which, to his great relief, had found no evidence of malignancy. Although he was experiencing breathlessness and chest pains, he was still able to do the things he wanted to do and did not think it would be worthwhile suing the council.